Orlando, Florida – A successful finish to the 2017 season played out on the Maple Leaf Junior Golf Tour (MJT) this past weekend, at the MJT Boston Pizza National Championship presented by TaylorMade-adidas Golf at Reunion Resort in Orlando, FLA, November 10 to 12, where seven divisional National Champions were crowned out of a field of 98 talented young golfers who had qualified from across the country for the invitation-only event on Canada’s number-one played junior golf tour.
The 54-hole World Amateur Ranked tournament, which featured an entertaining clinic by the Golf Channel’s Charlie Rymer, had AJGA Performance Based Entry (PBE) stars and major Golf Canada ranking points up for grabs, as well as results requests from college coaches scouting prospective players.
Low Overall and MJT National Juvenile Boys Champion, Carter Graf, 16, of Sylvan Lake, AB, fired an incredible six-under-par total of 70, 69, 71 (210) – for a 13 stroke victory over runner-up Gerry Mei, 15, of North York, ON. “My wedge game was really good all week and I really didn’t miss inside of five feet,” Graf said afterwards. “Going under par all three days in some bad conditions felt really good.”
It took a playoff to determine the MJT National Junior Boys Champion when both Eric Byun, 17, of Richmond Hill, ON (74-73-74), and Jacob Thomas, 18, of Edmonton, AB (68-78-75), tied after 54 holes with a 221 total. A birdie on the third playoff hole provided the victory for Byun, who stated, “The playoff with Jacob was the highlight of this tournament. It feels great, winning the biggest tournament of the MJT and at one of Florida’s most famous golf courses.”
The MJT National Bantam Boys Champion was Riley Lai, 14, of Vancouver, BC. Lai fired rounds of 75, 77, 68 (220) to win by eight strokes over Hunter Thomson, 13, of Calgary, AB. “I feel like I really earned this win – I stayed patient throughout the bad weather,” Lai said, adding, “My highlight was the clinic with Charlie Rymer. I learned a lot about how he thinks through each round. I choose to play the MJT because of the fantastic staff and competitors that help make each tournament special.”
12-year old Kevin Lee, of Markham, ON, shot 81-75-79 to win the title of MJT National Peewee Boys Champion by a single stroke over Andre Zhu, 11, of Richmond Hill, ON. Lee said that putting was the key to his victory – ‘all my saves for par were due to putting.’
Fantastic scoring by 12-year-old phenomenon Lauren Kim, of Surrey, BC (74,73,74 =221) crowned her MJT National Girls U15 Champion, as well as Low Overall Girls, with a 15-stroke victory in her division over Angela Arora, 13, of Surrey, BC. “The key was hitting fairways and greens and keeping level,” Kim stated afterwards. She also said her highlight was ‘having competitive but nice opponent players and making the most of my putts.’
15-year old Ashley Chow, of North York, ON, closed with a fantastic round of 70 on day three to win the MJT National Girls 15-18 Champion’s title by nine strokes over Bobbi Uhl, 17, of Erickson, MB. Chow, who shot 76-79-70, said, “The whole tournament was amazing. The skills competition and the talk from Charlie Rymer were very special. It was surreal to get my hat signed by Lydia Ko and to practice beside her. I feel so lucky to have won – all the girls in my division played well and I really had to fight for the win.”
Kyle Leiman, 19, of Victoria, BC, made it back-to-back wins at the MJT National Championship after taking home last year’s Junior Boys Hoselton Trophy, and this year firing rounds of 76,78,81 (235) to claim the new MJT National Collegiate Men’s title by two strokes over Joel Baron of Carberry, MB. Leiman said, “It was tough conditions out there. I feel really humbled about winning because it was a tight competition, and my playing partners really made me work for it.”
All players received fantastic gifting courtesy of presenting sponsor, TaylorMade-adidas Golf, and the top finishers were rewarded with TM RED putters and gift certificates galore.